The World's Center of Fun

The World's Center of Fun photo

Location, location, location. So say real estate brokers about buying and selling houses. The same can be said for the theme parks in Orlando, Florida. Beginning with the original Walt Disney World, the number and variety of parks in the area has grown like topsy. Another saying also applies: "Build them, and they shall come."

After experiencing Disney World's magic for one or two times, visitors began to look outside its borders for other places to have fun. And developers didn't disappoint them. Today, 14 major theme parks sprawl in and around Orlando. The phrase, "Been there, done that," must have been the inspiration for such a great number of parks. While most visitors might come and have fun at one park, only a small percentage come back to the same park on their next vacation.

While Disney built the original theme park in Orlando, others began to follow suit. Not to be outdone, the folks at Disney created their own versions of animal parks, to compete with Busch Gardens, movie parks, to compete with Universal Studios, aquatic parks to compete with SeaWorld, all to keep visitors within their park's boundaries.

Just about all of the Orlando theme parks provide two key ingredients — having fun and cooling off. You'll find that the three major entertainment companies — Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld — each provide parks featuring the three major concepts — fantasy, aquatics, and movies. Each company originated one of the concepts and the others copied it in their own image.

Four theme parks and two aquatic parks — Epcot®, Magic Kingdom®, Disney's Animal Kingdom®, Disney's Hollywood Studios®, Blizzard Beach and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon — comprise Walt Disney World® Resort.

When most people think of Disney World, they picture the Magic Kingdom. Here, beloved Disney characters come to life in attractions, shows, and parades, all centered around Cinderella's Castle. Animal Kingdom is home to over 1,700 animals in seven areas, including Africa, Oasis, and Dinoland.

At twice the size of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot features two parks, Future World and World Showcase. The first focuses on technological advancements, all centered around Spaceship Earth while the second introduces you to cultures from 11 countries.

To show off its cinematic accomplishments, the folks at Disney created Disney Hollywood Studios, offering a behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood moviemaking. Each of the park's four areas features live shows, high-speed rides, and backstage tours. Here, you'll get a chance to feel like a character in your favorite Disney movie.

To keep you cool while having fun, Disney created Blizzard Beach, a water park that looks like a ski resort with thrilling waterslides and attractions for the whole family. In fact, that's its somewhat original concept, cooling off by thinking winter. If you're in Florida to escape the snow, perhaps Typhoon Lagoon will be more to your liking. This tropical paradise has everything you'd expect from a waterpark — epic waterslides, a lazy river, a wave pool, family-style raft rides, and a children's play area.

Universal Studios originated the concept of the movie theme park. Two immersive theme parks — Universal Studios® and Universal's Islands of Adventure® — make up the Universal Orlando Resort. Inspired by some of its film successes such as Spider-Man™ and Harry Potter™, both offer a behind-the-scenes look at its version of Hollywood filmmaking.

Universal's Islands of Adventure features cutting edge rides, shows, and interactive attractions that feature all your favorite fantasy worlds, from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, featuring the beloved Hogwarts Castle, to Jurassic Park. It's water park, Wet n' Wild Orlando, has more multi-passenger rides than any other park, making it ideal for families who want to have fun together.

If you're interests lie more underwater, SeaWorld Orlando offers a wonderland of ocean animals, rides and dazzling shows featuring the famous Shamu, sea lions, dolphins, and exotic birds. Here, you can visit the lost City of Atlantis, free fall 400 feet in a capsule, or soar over the sea and sky at 60 miles per hour.

Aquatica is SeaWorld's waterpark, with all the usual water attractions, plus real sea creatures. The most popular ride, Dolphin Plunge, lets you race side-by-side in tubes through an underwater world that is home to a playful pod of real Commerson's dolphins. If you'd rather get up close and personal with dolphins, then Discovery Cove is just the ticket. Within its laid-back, tropical environment, you can snorkel a reef or hand-feed tropical birds.

Orlando's newest theme park, LEGOLAND Florida in Winterhaven, is a 150-acre interactive theme park built around world famous LEGOS. Dedicated to children 2 to 12, it offers more than 50 rides, shows, attractions, and a water park.

Through the magic of theme park technology, you don't have to travel all over the globe seeking thrills and fun. Instead, you just need to come to Orlando where you can take advantage of a one-stop shopping array of travel experiences all within its theme parks. You can purchase Orlando Park tickets and Discovery Cove tickets online.